Augmented Reality reached a fragile point in its life cycle. It risked becoming a short lived gimmick. A fad. Was that it?
A group of people: designers, entrepreneurs, engineers – obsessed with solving real world problems with AR – thought differently. They believed that with the right mindset, AR apps on smartphones can be very useful – in the present; more importantly, advancing AR on existing platforms is a necessary step to prepare the ground (users, technologies, applications, designers) for the new way of digital interaction with the world – once eyewear matures.
They set a big, hairy and audacious goal (a BEE-H.A.G): to inspire 1 billion people to actively use of augmented reality – by the end of the decade – that is 2020.
Then it burst; smartphones became capable of delivering augmented reality experiences to the masses and augmented reality broke out with much fanfare. Millions of users, thousands of applications, and hundreds of companies popped in the space. Users were enamored for a moment but few applications were used regularly. GPS-based floating bubbles sparked the imagination but failed to be actively used for navigation or information discovery; playing sensor-based games with camera view as backdrop, or watching videos and animations overlaid on flat surfaces without real world interaction – had an initial wow factor but provided little distinctive value. For some AR seemed awkward, and somewhat disappointing.
Moreover, a handful of pundits claimed AR will only become viable when eyewear matures.
In the early days, augmented reality promised to change the way we interact with the world in every single field, a force to accelerate progress; a technology that would digitize interaction with the real world and would enable people to master skills effortlessly, increase situational awareness with a ‘digital sixth sense’, and have more fun – away from the screen. Augmented reality meant augmented humanity.
But in these early days, augmented reality was missing a few things: a platform to reach people, solutions designed to solve real problems, and public awareness to its potential.
They began by organizing events that brought together the best in AR and promoted excellence in global and local gatherings – known as AWE, ARNY, ARLA, and over 20 meetups around the world. They championed the industry in blogs and the media, and helped dozens of AR startups get to market.
And they made it a non-profit so that all people and companies passionate about AR could join forces with no conflict and one shared goal.
More than networking and education – AugmentedReality.ORG is a platform that anyone could use to help reach augmented reality’s full potential.
With your support it can – and will – change the way we interact with the world, and it will augment humanity.